AFL world sends outpouring of messages after devastating Nathan Murphy news confirmed

The Collingwood premiership player has been forced into retirement at age 24.

Nathan Murphy has been forced to retire from the AFL at age 24, leaving fans and fellow players heartbroken. The Collingwood defender copped a concussion in last year's grand final and hadn't been able to return to the field this year.

On Tuesday the 24-year-old announced he'd been forced to retire on the advice of medical professionals. “I feel it is the right time and the right decision for me to hang up my footy boots,” Murphy said.

“I love my football, but my priority is on my future and ensuring I live a full and healthy life. I’d like to thank the club, coaches, teammates, staff and the Magpie army for all their support throughout my playing career and for allowing me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream of playing AFL.

Nathan Murphy.
Nathan Murphy hadn't been able to return to the field since last year's AFL grand final. Image: Getty

“To my family and friends, I couldn’t have gone through this journey without your continued love and support which I am so grateful for. It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to have been able to experience premiership success with this group and club. I hope I did the jumper proud and thank the many people and supporters who helped me along the way. I will forever cherish the memories and friends I’ve made at our great club.”

Nathan Murphy, pictured here after copping a heavy head knock in the AFL grand final last year.
Nathan Murphy copped a heavy head knock in the AFL grand final last year.

Nathan Murphy and Angus Brayshaw in double retirement blow

Murphy informed his teammates of his decision on Tuesday morning, before Collingwood released a statement on his behalf. The defender suffered multiple concussions before his AFL career even started, and copped a number of head knocks during his 57 games for the Magpies.


He is the second player this year to retire because of a concussion suffered in last year's finals series, after Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw called time on his career in February. Brayshaw was knocked unconscious in a controversial incident with Brayden Maynard in the first week of the 2023 finals.

"On behalf of everyone at Collingwood, we thank Nathan for his contribution to our club and commend him on the maturity he has shown throughout this period," football boss Brendon Bolton said in a statement. "While we will miss 'Murph', he'll forever be a part of Collingwood's history as a 2023 premiership player. On behalf of the entire club, we wish him all the best for this next chapter."

AFL world left devastated over Nathan Murphy's retirement

Murphy was examined by the league's concussion panel and initially given the green light last December to resume his career. But he picked up another knock at training in January, which ultimately proved the final straw.

In February, Collingwood chief executive Craig Kelly defended the decision to allow Murphy to resume playing. "For anyone to write an article that says we're not looking after our players and reports stuff (when) they haven't got all the information, they're not in the inner sanctum, is just wrong," Kelly said at the time.

Nathan Murphy and Collingwood captain Darcy Moore.
Nathan Murphy and Darcy Moore after the AFL grand final in 2023.

"It doesn't do anyone any favours and sensationalises something that is really difficult we're working through. I'm glad we've had the opportunity to say we care deeply for our people (at Collingwood).

"Ruben Branson, our doctor, is one of the best doctors in Australia in regard to sport, if not the world. Every now and then people need to respect how difficult it is for players to read stuff that is not correctly reported."

with AAP